Are streaming services ready for dynamic random-order concept albums?
Random Playback is a music album that explores using dynamically looped playback to generate a unique listening experience for your own device (and which never ends). The album leverages streaming technology to randomly playback material endlessly and aims to simultaneously test the boundaries of streaming services’ “gapless playback“ feature. Just hit shuffle, repeat, and play.*
The Random Playback album consists of twelve loopable tracks of equal length that have no audio fades. The source material was generated and recorded with permission from playing an iOS clicker game, Rhythmcremental, created by Batta (Simon Hutchinson and Paul Turowski). In the game, sonically one advances by adding different instruments and triggers, thereby creating more rhythmic density and harmonies. Do check out the game. It’s addictive.
The tracks on the album are sequenced sequentially, such that one could play the album straight as if listening back to a selection of a single game of Rhythmcremental. Yet, by turning “shuffle” mode on, and turning on “repeat,” the album will loop endlessly, navigating seamlessly** between random tracks on the album in order to weave together a listening experience unique to your device. But don’t take my word for it. Hit Shuffle, Repeat, and Play and check it out for yourself…. (recommend playback in the app!)
*phone apps for Amazon Music and Apple services are the most seamless for shuffle playback.
UPDATE 9/21/21: While Spotify is seamless on chronological, non-shuffle playback, Spotify seems to falter if randomizing playback (confirmed by other users). Amazon Music Unlimited, however, seems to handle randomization playback well, nearly seamless (from the phone app). Apple Music also has seamless shuffle playback from the phone app. That said, any browser playback has terrible audio drops between songs on shuffle mode for all services.
**”Seamless” is part of the ‘testing the boundaries of streaming technology’ bit. The track-to-track gapless playback result relies quite a bit on server bandwidth and the “Gapless Playback” feature of the one’s streaming service. At the time of writing this, sequential playback sounds more seamless than random “gapless” playback (on Spotify). Although, this could be my own device and data bandwidth.